Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Reason

"God’s love is the reason for our creation, a free, gratuitous love, a love without limits... Our duty is to translate this love into acts of solidarity and commitment." - Gustavo Gutiérrez

"Nothing has an uglier look to us than reason, when it is not of our side." - Charles Montagu Halifax, 1st Earl of Halifax, Lord Halifax

"It is much easier to think right without doing right, than to do right without thinking right. Just thoughts may, and often do, fail of producing just deeds; but just deeds are sure to get just thoughts. The clearest understanding can do little in purifying an impure heart, the strongest little in straightening a crooked one. You cannot reason or talk an Augean stable into cleanliness. A single day's work would make more progress in such a task than a century's words." - Julius Charles Hare (1795-1855) and his brother Augustus William Hare

"It is, most fundamentally, because moral judgments are universablizable that we can speak of moral thought as rational (to universalize is to give the reason); and their prescriptivity is very intimately connected with our freedom to form our own moral opinions (only those free to think and act need a prescriptive language)." - Richard M. Hare, fully Richard Mervyn Hare

"He who fears to venture as far as his heart urges and his reason permits, is a coward; he who ventures further than he intended to go, is a slave." - Heinrich Heine

"Nirvana is interpreted by Western nations as the actual annihilation of human desire or passion; but this is a mistake. Nirvana is nothing else than universal reason." - Kinza M. Hirai, fully Kinza Ringe M. Hirai

"Whosoever looketh into himself and considereth what he doth when he does think, opine, reason, hope, fear, etc., and upon what grounds; he shall thereby read and know what are the thoughts and passions of all men upon the like occasions." - Thomas Hobbes

"Why do we look old? Because we remember the weight of the burden of last year's experiences. There is no other reason. Instead of lifting our faces, we should discover that the thing to lift is our thought. It is the mind, not the physical body, which has the stamp of age and reflects it in the body." - Ernest Shurtleff Holmes

"We are all tatooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible. You cannot educate a man wholly out of the superstitious fears which were implanted in his imagination, no matter how utterly his reason may reject them." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

"The contradiction between what is requested of man and what can be offered to him has become so striking, the ideology so thin, the discontents in civilization so great that they must be compensated through annihilation of those who do not conform, political enemies, Jews, asocial persons, the insane. The new order of fascism is reason revealing itself as unreason." - Max Horkheimer

"Temperaunce... is a moderate gouernaunce of reason, and also one of the car [di] nall vertues." - Richard Huloet

"‘Tis not, therefore, reason, which is the guide of life, but custom." - David Hume

"Disbelief in futurity loosens in a great measure the ties of morality, and may be for that reason pernicious to the peace of civil society." - David Hume

"It seems evident, that men are carried, by a natural instinct or prepossession, to repose faith in their senses; and that, without any reasoning, or even almost before the use of reason, we always suppose an external universe, which depends not on our perception, but would exist, though we and every sensible creature were absent or annihilated." - David Hume

"Men are not blamed for such actions as they perform ignorantly and casually, whatever may be the consequences. Why? but because the principles of these actions are only momentary, and terminate in them alone. Men are less blamed for such actions as they perform hastily and unpremeditatedly than for such as proceed from deliberation. For what reason? but because a hasty temper, though a constant cause or principle in the mind, operates only by intervals, and infects not the whole character. Again, repentance wipes off every crime, if attended with a reformation of life and manners. How is this to be accounted for? but by asserting that actions render a person criminal merely a they are proofs of criminal principles in the mind." - David Hume

"Morals excite passions, and produce or prevent actions. Reason of itself is utterly impotent in this particular. The rules of morality, therefore, are not conclusions of our reason." - David Hume

"Nothing can oppose or retard the impulse of passion... Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them." - David Hume

"Reason is the discovery of truth or falsehood. Truth or falsehood consists in an agreement or disagreement either to the real relations of ideas, or to real existence and matter of fact. Whatever, therefore, is not susceptible of this agreement or disagreement, is incapable of being true or false, and can never be an object of our reason. Now ‘tis evident our passions, volitions, and actions, are not susceptible of any such agreement or disagreement; being original facts and realities, complete in themselves, and implying no reference to other passions, volitions, and actions. ‘Tis impossible, therefore, they can be pronounced either true or false, and be either contrary or conformable to reason." - David Hume

"The distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceiv’d by reason." - David Hume

"Our perceptions and our understanding are directed, in large measure, by our will. We are aware of, and we think about, the things which, for one reason or another, we want to see and understand. Where there’s a will there is always an intellectual way. The capacities of the human mind are almost indefinitely great." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"The end cannot justify the means, for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determine the nature of the ends produced." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"What we do depends in large measure upon what we think, and if what we do it evil, there is good empirical reason for supposing that our thought patterns are inadequate to material, mental or spiritual reality." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"When, for whatever reason, men and women fail to transcend themselves by means of worship, good works and spiritual exercises, they are apt to resort to religion’s chemical surrogates." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"Whenever, for any reason, we wish to think of the world, not as it appears to common sense, but as a continuum, we find that our traditional syntax and vocabulary are quite inadequate. Mathematicians have therefore been compelled to invent radically new symbol-systems for this express purpose. But the divine Ground of all existence is not merely a continuum, it is also out of time, and different, not merely in degree, but in kind from the worlds to which traditional language and the languages of mathematics are adequate." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"Fear of life is one form or other is the great thing to exorcise; but it isn’t reason that will ever do it. Impulse without reason is enough, and reason without impulse is a poor makeshift. I take it that no man is educated who has never dallied with the thought of suicide." - William James

"In ethical, psychological and aesthetic matters, to give a clear reason for one’s judgment is universally recognized as a mark of rare genius. The helplessness of uneducated people account for their likes and dislikes is often ludicrous." - William James

"What may be called “club-opinion” is one of the very strongest forces in life. The thief must not steal from other thieves; the gambler must pay his gambling-debts, though he pay no other debts in the world. The code of honor of fashionable society has throughout history been full of permissions as well as of vetoes, the only reason for following either of which is that so we best serve one of our social selves." - William James

"Fear is implanted in us as a preservative from evil; but its duty, like that of other passions, is not to overbear reason, but to assist it; nor should it be suffered to tyrannize in the imagination, to raise phantoms of horror, or to beset life with supernumerary distresses." -

"He who would govern his actions by the laws of virtue must regulate his thought by those of reason." -

"Pity is not natural to man. Children and savages are always cruel. Pity is acquired and improved by the cultivation of reason. We may have uneasy sensations from seeing a creature in distress, without pity; but we have not pity unless we wish to relieve him." -

"Solitude is dangerous to reason, without being favorable to virtue." -

"Wisdom and virtue are by no means sufficient, without the supplemental laws of good-breeding, to secure freedom from degenerating into rudeness, or self-esteem from swelling into insolence. A thousand incivilities may be committed, and a thousand offices neglected, without any remorse of conscience or reproach from reason." -

"A crowd... in its very concept is the untruth, by reason of the fact that it renders the individual completely impenitent and irresponsible, or at least weakens his sense of responsibility by reducing it to a fraction." - Søren Kierkegaard, fully Søren Aabye Kierkegaard

"The reason that women are so much more sociable than men is because they act more from the heart than the intellect." -

"There is no outward sign of politeness which has not a deep, moral reason. Behavior is a mirror in which every one shows his own image. There is a politeness of the heart akin to love, from which springs the easiest politeness of outward behavior... Politeness is not always a sign of wisdom, but the want of it always leaves room for the suspicion of folly." - Walter Savage Landor

"But it is the knowledge of necessary and eternal truths that distinguishes us from the mere animals and gives us Reason and the sciences, raising us to the knowledge of ourselves and of God. And it is this in us that is called the rational soul or mind. It is also through the knowledge of necessary truths, and through their abstract expression, that we rise to acts of reflection, which make us think of what is called I, and observe that this or that is within us: and thus, thinking of ourselves, we think of being, of substance, of the simple and the compound, of the immaterial, and of God Himself, conceiving that what is limited in us is in Him without limits." -

"The whole future is doubtless determined; but since we know not what it is, nor what is foreseen or resolved, we must do our duty, according to the reason that God has given us and according to the rules that he has prescribed for us; and thereafter we must have a quiet mind, and leave to God himself the care for the outcome. For he will never fail to do that which shall be the best, not only in general but also in particular, for those who have true confidence in him, that is, a confidence composed of true piety, a lively faith and fervent charity, by virtue of which we will, as far as in us lies, neglect nothing appertaining to our duty and his service." -

"What education is to the individual man, revelation is to the whole human race... Education gives man nothing which he could not also get from within himself; it gives him that which he could get form within himself, only quicker and more easily. In the same way too, revelation gives nothing to the human race which reason could not arrive at on its own; only it has given, and still gives to it, the most important of these things sooner." - Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

"People become so used to being unhappy they are unaware of the needless misery they cause themselves. They imprison themselves by filling their minds with thoughts of resentment, hatred, envy, and desires. It is amazing how they tolerate living such a life. The only reason they do tolerate it is because they have become so used to living with such thoughts they fell it is the normal picture of life. They mistakenly think it is impossible for life to be any different." - Yeruchem Levovitz, aka The Mashgiach

"I and myself. I feel myself - these are two distinct things. Our false philosophy is incorporated in our whole language; we cannot reason without, so to speak, reasoning wrongly. We overlook the fact that speaking, no matter of what, is itself a philosophy." - Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

"Those who use their reason do not reach the same conclusions as those who obey their prejudices." - Walter Lippmann

"No crime (evil) is founded upon reason." -

"All virtue lies in a power of denying our own desires where reason does not authorize them." - John Locke

"I think there cannot any one moral rule be proposed whereof a man may not justly demand a reason: which would be perfectly ridiculous and absurd if they were innate; or so much as self-evident, which every innate principle must needs be, and not need any proof to ascertain its truth, nor want any reason to gain its approbation." - John Locke

"The knowledge of our own being we have by intuition. The existence of a God, reason clearly makes known to us, as has been shown. The knowledge of existence of any other thing we can have only by sensation: for there being no necessary connection of real existence with any idea a man hath in his memory; nor of any other existence but that of God with the existence of any particular man: no particular man can know the existence of any other being but only when, by actual operating upon him, it makes itself perceived by him. For, the having the idea of anything in our mind, no more proves the existence of that thing, than the picture of a man evidences his being in the world, or the visions of a dream make thereby a true history." - John Locke

"The most precious of all possessions, is power over ourselves; power to withstand trial, to bear suffering, to front danger; power over pleasure and pain; power to follow convictions, however resisted by menace and scorn; the power of calm reliance in scenes of darkness an storms. He that has not a mastery over his inclinations; he that knows not how to resist the importunity of present pleasure or pain, for the sake of what reason tells him is fit to be done, wants the true principle of virtue and industry, and is in danger of never being good for anything." - John Locke

"There cannot any one moral rule be proposed whereof a man may not justly demand a reason." - John Locke

"We must consider what person stands for; - which, I think, is a thinking intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing, in different times and places; which it does only by that consciousness which is inseparable from thinking, and, as it seems to me, essential to it: it being impossible for any one to perceive without perceiving that he does perceive. When we see, hear, smell, taste, feel, meditate, or will anything, we know that we do so. Thus it is always as to our present sensations and perceptions: and by this every one is to himself that which he calls self." - John Locke

"Morality is not an imposition removed from life and reason; it is a compendium of the minimum of sacrifices necessary for man to live in company with other men, without suffering too much or causing others to suffer." - Gina Lombroso, fully Gina Elena Zefora Lombroso

"Prejudice is the conjurer of imaginary wrongs, strangling truth, overpowering reason, making strongmen weak and weak men weaker. God give us the large-hearted charity which "beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things," which "thinketh no evil."" - John Macduff